Ten games is all which stands between Mamelodi Sundowns and recapturing the Premier Soccer League title.
Any coach worth his salt dreams about heading into the final stretch with his team’s destiny firmly in their own hands. No need for pleading prayers, complicated log mathematics or a reliance on others losing. The equation is simple: get the job done and you get to take home the title.
This is the enviable chair on which Pitso Mosimane resides. The Brazilians sit four points ahead on top of the table with ten games left to play. Win the game in hand on Wednesday evening and that becomes a tantalising, potentially title-lucky seven.
It’s the beginning of a crucial couple days which will either blow the title race wide open or turn the remainder of the 2017/18 PSL season into a procession. First up is surprise package this term Free State Stars. Victory for Ea Lla Koto could launch them into the realm of entertaining their own lofty ambitions for the title. Lose and they join Cape Town City on Sundown’s hit list of teams knocked back down to reality.
Lurking on the other side of the midweek is SuperSport United. Eric Tinkler’s men have struggled this season but will no doubt relish the opportunity to throw a wrench into the plans of their rivals. For the neutral, the Tshwane Derby is no doubt a tantalising prospect.
Masandawana, however, appear firmly focused on resisting the temptation to focus on the weekend’s bright Pretoria lights and are giving Free State Stars the respect they deserve.
Echoing Mosimane’s earlier remarks, midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi said Wednesday evening’s fixture was solely on their minds.
“You have to deal with what’s in front of you, which is Free State Stars,” he told the Mail & Guardian. “And I think that’s the key thing in this moment because you can’t focus on the other ones without settling with Free State Stars.
“We only focus on Free State Stars because we look at the prize that we’re playing for. We are playing for the title obviously so it’s one game at a time. Each and every game is a final. A certain mindset starts to come in and certain players start to up their game. This is where you start getting energised. This is where players start to get motivated and bring in their A game and everybody starts to hit the ball harder.”
Vilakazi did, however, venture to suggest that SuperSport will offer as intense a challenge as ever.
“One thing we can look forward to is goals. The Tshwane derby has always brought good goals. Our fans recently coming in big numbers, the hype has grown to be very big. We try to make them happy and certain expectations come in as well – we try to maintain those expectations.”